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Spring Sports Preview: Kenwood

The Bluebirds enter the spring season with high expectations in several sports even as they introduce new coaches in softball and girls lacrosse.

Spring is here and that means a new sports season is upon us.

Kenwood enters the spring season with high hopes in several sports, even with new softball and girls lacrosse coaches. How will the Bluebirds fare this season?

Here is a breakdown of Kenwood's spring squads:

BOYS LACROSSE

Coach: Tony Ruocco

Key Returners: Nick Eliadis (A, Jr.), Jordan Boller (A, Sr.), Jesse Greifzu (M, Sr.), Kyle Chaillou (M, Sr.), Garrett Conn (M, Sr.).

Outlook: Ruocco expects the Bluebirds, who went 7-9 in 2011, to be competitive in the newly formed Baltimore County Division II Conference, which also includes Owings Mills, Sparrows Point, Lansdowne Parkville, Overlea, Woodlawn, Patapsco and Dundalk. Eliadis is Kenwood’s top returning offensive threat after compiling 36 points last season. Boller will also be key after he finished with 29 points and 67 ground balls as a junior.

Also, Greifzu won 114-of-199 faceoffs while Conn had 29 ground balls and seven goals in 2011. The Bluebirds also return Chaillou, who had 44 ground balls as a junior and has signed on to play at Alderson-Broaddus, a Division II school that just launched a lacrosse program.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Matt Wickman

Top Returning Players: Harlee Ellifritz (D, Sr.), Casey Whitley (M, Sr.), Elana Urie (A/M, Sr.), Cierra Wilson (M, Jr.), Allison Tarr (M/D, Jr.).

Top Newcomers: Kelly Dotterweich (A, Fr.), Erin Forish (A/M, Fr.), Claudia Tonti (A, Fr.).

Outlook: Wickman is in his first year at the helm as the Bluebirds join the Baltimore County Division II Conference, Wickman said he believes the strength of the team is on defense where Kenwood returns several key players. The offense will be somewhat inexperienced with three freshmen expected to see significant playing time at attack. Kenwood hopes to challenge for the Division II title in 2012.

BASEBALL

Coach: Jay Diggs         

Top returning players: Nicholas Pelekakis (3B/P), Aaron Brzezinski (C), Brandon Hovel (SS/P), Justin Kitko (OF), Edgar Walker (1B).

Top Newcomers: Ryan Feeheeley (Catcher/OF), Patrick McElfish (1B).

Outlook: The Bluebirds, who went 12-7 in 2011, graduated six starters from last year so the competition to fill those vacancies has sparked some constructive rivalry among several players. The Bluebirds are also lucky to have a couple of players coming up from JV. That, combined with the returning varsity players, makes Diggs confident they will be putting a competitive team on the field.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Tamara Maggard

Top Returning Players: Alyssa Williams (2B/P, Sr.), Lauren Hagy (OF/P, Sr.), Amanda Hensler (C, Jr.), Faith Ledford (3B, Jr.).

Top Newcomers: Lauren Feeheley (Utility, Fr.), Kaitlyn Jackson (1B, Fr.), Mollie Gutridge (SS, So.), Emily Botto (OF, So.).

Outlook: Maggard, in her first year at the helm, takes over a Bluebirds program that has experience and depth at key positions. She said the focus this year will be nailing down the fundamentals and building a strong winning foundation. 

With a rotation of three pitchers and a solid returner behind the plate in Hensler, the Bluebirds—who lost to eventual Class 4A champion Urbana in the regional quarterfinals in 2011—are going to make their opponents earn every run they score, Maggard said.

“Our recipe for a winning season is simple: Keep the errors down, keep the hits up, and keep wins in the win column,” Maggard said.

TRACK & FIELD

Coach: Head Coaches Mark Planamente (2nd year), Craig Maki (2nd Year)

Top Returning Boys: Travis Jenkins (Sprints/jumps, Sr.) Jaleel Feggins (Sprints, So.), Shawn Strasdauskas (Distance, Sr.), Andrew Powis (Pole vault, Jr.), Keith Moody (Sprints, Jr.).

Top Returning Girls: Jada Boyd (Distance, Jr.), Rachel Bauer (Distance, So.), Alexis Moog (Sprints, Sr.), Shannon Foster (Jumps, Jr.), Telema Korkpan (Jumps, Sr.), Loreen Nebo (Sprints, Sr.).

Top newcomers (boys): Terrance Barnes (Throws, Fr.), Tyshauwn Owens (Sprints, So.).

Top newcomers (girls): Rayven Ray (Jumps, Sr.), Shaneara Terry (Sprints, Jr.), Diamond Hunter (Sprints, Jr.), Kaitlynn Armstrong (Pole Vault, Fr.), Brandi Jordan (Jumps, Jr.), Brianna Best (Jumps/sprints, Fr.).

Outlook: Coming off last year's outdoor season where the girls were Division Champions and boys in second place, there is still room to improve, Planamente said. Planamente said the girls team is much better than last year's team as there were no seniors that graduated. Both teams, he added, have a very nice balance between running and field events.

Planamente said the girls' side has some depth which will help the team as it heads into the postseason.  

“I am positive that this year will be one of the greatest outdoor seasons that Kenwood has seen in years,” Planamente said. “The athletes have already worked hard and have a positive chemistry with each other from previous seasons.  

"During the indoor season, there were nine school records broken. If things work out, there could be double-digit records broken by both squads. We will wait and see.”

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